Saturday, February 24, 2018 | 3:10 PM


Ankara-Washington ties at very critical point, Turkish FM says

Monday, February 12, 2018
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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Ankara's ties with Washington will either be mended or severed, as relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have suffered serious damage in the wake of Ankara’s ongoing cross-border offensive in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“Our relations are at a very critical point. They will either be fixed or these ties will be completely damaged,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul on the sidelines of a Turkish-African meeting.

He also elaborated on Ankara's expectations, and condemned continuous US support for the YPG.

“We don't want promises and pledges from the US. We want concrete steps [regarding the YPG]. For us to discuss multiple issues with the US, the trust that has been lost needs to be restored. And the cause of the lost trust is US [actions],” the top Turkish diplomat pointed out.

Cavusoglu added, “The US is not touching Daesh members in Syria as an excuse to continue working with YPG terrorist group.”

The remarks came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due in Ankara later this week for talks aimed at finding a way forward as Washington is seriously concerned about Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria.

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists,” and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.

This is while US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the terrorist group.

The controversy over a possible Syria border force first started on January 14 when a report emerged on Reuters saying that the military coalition led by the United States in Syria was planning to set up a large border force of up to 30,000 personnel with the aid of its militia allies.

The Syrian government has already condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.

Damascus "strongly condemns the brutal Turkish aggression on Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syrian territory," Syria’s official news agency, SANA, cited a Syrian Foreign Ministry source as saying on January 20.

“Syria completely denies claims by the Turkish regime that it was informed of this military operation,” the source added.